The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. By forcing reporters to optimize every story for clicks, not giving them time to check or contextualize their reporting, and requiring them to race to publish follow-on articles on every topic, the clickbait economics of online media encourage carelessness and drama. This is particularly true for technical topics outside the reporter’s area of expertise.
And reporters have no choice but to chase clicks. Because Google and Facebook have a duopoly on online advertising, the only measure of success in publishing is whether a story goes viral on social media. Authors are evaluated by how individual stories perform online, and face constant pressure to make them more arresting. Highly technical pieces are farmed out to junior freelancers working under strict time limits. Corrections, if they happen at all, are inserted quietly through ‘ninja edits’ after the fact.
There is no real penalty for making mistakes, but there is enormous pressure to frame stories in whatever way maximizes page views. Once those stories get picked up by rival news outlets, they become ineradicable. The sheer weight of copycat coverage creates the impression of legitimacy. As the old adage has it, a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is pulling its boots on.
Archives For Citizen Journalism
Burning Man isn’t a way of escaping the social problems that accompany new technology. On the contrary, it is a a petri dish that intensifies and fosters some of the deeper conflicts. It is a case study for, among other things, a new media problem: that of ubiquitous cameras.
Photos are all too easy to take, and they find their way all too quickly to the internet, where they persist long afterwards. When we use some of our freedom to evade a social prescription in one world, we open ourselves up to being forced to cross that line in all worlds. It is as if, having uttered a curse word once, that word is recorded, and played back constantly in front of everyone we ever meet—our bosses, our priests, our children, and our grandparents.
We can argue the socially-defined and evolving boundary lines of all of these things, but what we cannot argue is consent. Consent existed before photography, and will exist long after X-Ray Specs are invented. There have always been assholes that look at a safe space as simply a possibility for exploitation. Consent has never been fully respected by society, nor by its technology. That is no reason to continue to ignore it. Consent is a person’s ability to control their own body, including its image, now and into the future.
The fact that we might never have had full control over our body is not a reason to deny its existence. That exploitation is a historical fact does not make it a future given. Regardless of what technology exists and on what spot on the earth you happen to be standing in, you can either choose to respect consent, or you can choose to violate it.
“It’s my goal to be bringing in new technology to make sure that students are aware that, you know, digital tools are disrupting all of our jobs and we need to learn about them and we need to discuss them.
I completely agree. Teaching the skill of lifelong learning and instilling a passion for what’s next is the best way to arm communications students — who otherwise will be learning tactical skills that may be outdated by their second job out of school — for success. Kudos DU.
There was an important Supreme Court ruling early in the day. An international fugitive was possibly on a flight from Moscow to Cuba. The Dow was diving. But by midday in the nation’s capital on Monday, a red panda who disappeared from the National Zoo had hijacked the news cycle.